Skuas and Gulls

GREAT SKUA    Stercorarius skua    Scarce passage visitor
1992  A dark brown bird with prominent white patches on the upper wing flew up the Calder Valley towards Elland on the afternoon of 11th October.

LONG-TAILED SKUA    Stercorarius longicaudus    Scarce passage visitor
1999  A bird was sen flying north-west at Dob Park Wood in the Washburn Valley on 28th April.

ARCTIC SKUA    Stercorarius parasiticus    Scarce passage visitor
1991  There was a record of two flying west at Fly Flatts Reservoir on 29th August.
1994  A dark phase bird flew south-west over Fly Flatts Reservoir during the evening of 25th August. This was followed by a single again flying south over Fly Flatts Reservoir in the evening of the next day.
2004  An adult pale-morph bird flew north-west past Barden watchpoint in the afternoon of 12th July. This is only the fourth Group record, and the first since 1994.
2006  After only three records up to 1994, there have now been two in just over 24 months. The Group’s fifth record was represented by a pale-phase bird which gave good views as it flew west over Kex Gill on 9th September
2012  A bird seen from Oxenhope watchpoint on 28th August becomes only the sixth Group record, and the first since 2006.
2013  A bird flew directly over the head of an experienced birder at Yeadon Tarn on the afternoon of 28th September and it was identified as a juvenile, in its dark morph phase. This species has now been recorded in consecutive years and this was the seventh Group record. On the 20th October, a bird believed to be a Skua species was watched from Oxenhope watchpoint as it traversed the Aire Valley.
2015  A bird initially seen very close was watched from the Oxenhope Watchpoint as if flew north westwards into the Worth Valley on 25th September. The was the ninth Group record.
MEDITERRANEAN GULL    Larus melanocephalus    Scarce winter visitor
Seen regularly since 1989. Most recent sightings:
2011  Whilst well down on last year’s record aggregate, 11 birds would have been thought remarkable only a few years ago; all but two were seen in the south. In January, individuals were at Thornton Moor on the 21st and at Cullingworth from the 26th to the 29th, and the only other early record came from Redcar Tarn on 3rd March. Four July records involved a bird here on the 31st, following a 1st-summer at Yeadon Tarn the previous day, as well as another bird at Cullingworth on the 18th, and one which passed Barden Scale on the 23rd. The remaining sightings were all at Thornton Moor: a 2nd-summer on 2nd September, and adults on 21st October, and 6th and 19th November.
2012  The excellent run of records continues, as 13 reports, mostly from Airedale, produced a minimum of 11 different birds. The principal locations were:
Redcar Tarn: A 2nd-winter bird showed well here on 20th February, followed by different adults in July on the 22nd and 30th, and another adult on 5th August.
Farnhill Ings: A 1st-summer present from 25th to 27th June was joined on the latter date by a 2nd-summer bird, which then appeared at nearby Silsden Ings on 2nd July.
Silsden Ings: As well as the above record, adults were seen on 25th July, and 5th August.
Barden: An adult flew past the watchpoint on 26th March, and presumably the same bird was seen displaying to (indifferent!) Black-headed Gulls at Upper Barden Reservoir the day after. Two at the watchpoint on 12th April might also have included this bird.  Cullingworth Fields had the final bird: a 1st-winter on 14th October.
2013  The excellent run, which commenced in 2010, continued with 17 reports of 13 different birds, mostly from Airedale. The locations were as follows:
Redcar Tarn: Adult birds were recorded here on 4th January and 28th March. On 26th July, a bird which was seen on a number of occasions, was last reported on the 5th August on Highfield Road Playing Fields . A small bird, presumably a female, was present here on the 9th December.
Cullingworth Fields: Whilst there was a bird at Redcar Tarn, a different adult was located amongst Black-headed Gulls on 30th July. In the following month (24th), a juvenile, moulting into 1st-winter plumage, was noted and on 28th November another adult was found.
Barden: A bird was heard calling at the upper reservoir on 20th April.
Bolton Abbey: A bird seen displaying to a Black-headed Gull was watched on 12th May.
Thornton Moor Reservoir: An adult bird on 4th August.
Lindley Wood Reservoir: A juvenile bird was seen on the evening of 28th August and another bird a month later.
Leeshaw Reservoir: The final sighting was a 2nd-winter bird which flew off to the north-west on 26th December.
2014  There were six reports, all from the same observer, involving single birds at three sites. An adult bird was identified at Swinsty Reservoir on 22nd January and three more adults were seen in the south of the area in October: at Thornton Moor Reservoir on 17th and 24th and at Leeshaw Reservoir on the 28th. Two further Thorton Moor records comprised a 2nd-winter bird on 3rd November and a 1st-winter on the 14th.
2015  Just four records and, as last year they were all from the same observer. Two adult birds were seen on 26th May at Redcar Tarn and a juvenile was at Lower Laithe Reservoir on 23rd July. The other two records involved single adults, both at Cullingworth Fields, in November and December.
Mediterranean Gull (above) at Redcar Tarn in January 2010.  
An adult Mediterranean Gull with a Black-headed Gull at Redcar Tarn in March 2010.                                                                                      photos: Keith Moir
Little Gull at Redcar Tarn on 10th April 2012.  
photo: Stephen Lilley
LITTLE GULL    Larus minutus    Scarce passage visitor
Most recent sightings:
2002  A first-summer bird provided close views at Yeadon Tarn on 23rd May.
2003  A lone second summer frequented Elland Gravel Pits on 21st April.
2004  The only record concerned an adult bird at Yeadon Tarn on 9th May.
2005  The two records of this attractive gull both came from the south of the Group area. A 1st-summer bird was seen at Elland Gravel Pits on 5th April. The other record, a 1st-year bird, was on the less typical date of 7th November, when it arrived at Leeshaw Reservoir with Black-headed Gulls, before quickly departing.
2009  A 2nd-winter bird was at Thornton Moor Reservoir on 10th November.
2010  Recorded for the second successive year, and again from Thornton Moor, where two birds spent 10 minutes on 30th July.
2012  An obliging 1st-winter bird spent the morning at Redcar Tarn on 10th April.
2013  For the second consecutive year, there was a record of this attractive Gull. A bird was seen near Yeadon Tarn on 23rd June as it swooped down into a field. The observer reported that there may have been a second bird which clearly showed a black head and black bill.
2014  This small attractive gull was reported for the third consecutive year. A bird, first seen on 20th April at Yeadon Tarn, stayed for a further day before departing northwards in late afternoon.
SABINE'S GULL    Larus sabini    Vagrant
1987  Undoubtedly the bird of the year was discovered at Chelker Reservoir on 20th October, being seen by many members, before departing on 23rd. A victim of gale force winds, this bird was the most northerly representative of a wreck of Sabine’s lifted from the Bay of Biscay. Superficially a winter plumaged adult, the absence of a red orbital ring would seem to indicate that it was second summer bird.

RING-BILLED GULL    Larus delawarensis    Vagrant
1991  A second-winter bird paid a brief visit to Low Moor Tip, Bradford, on 27th December.
1992  A first-winter bird was present at Low Moor Tip on 3rd December.
YELLOW-LEGGED GULL    Larus cachinnans    Scarce passage visitor
Seen each year since 1992 when it split from Larus argentatus
2012  About 20 different birds were seen, much in line with last year, and with all the records again from south of the area, as follows:
Thornton Moor Reservoir: Third-summer birds were seen on 23rd July and 10th August, and a 2nd-summer on 6th October. Singles passed the watchpoint on 18th August and 7th October, and two nearby locations also had birds: Hill Top (Thornton) on 6th August, and Stubden Reservoir on the 10th.
Cullingworth Fields: Had adults on 20th August and 8th, 11th and 25th October, and different sub-adults on 15th September and 15th October.
Elsewhere, three birds were at Silsden Ings on 25th June, one at Harden on 24th August two near Ogden on the 13th, and another there on 7th September.
2013  After a couple of years in which this bird was well-recorded, there was a drop to just nine reports, all but one from the south of the area. There were three, assumed to be different birds, at Thornton Moor Reservoir from the 27th July until 4th August and a 1st-summer bird at Redcar Tarn. At this time, another three birds frequented Cullingworth Fields. The exception to this activity was at Strid Woods where a bird was well-studied on 7th November and finally a 1st-winter bird was at Brown Royd, Bradford on 22nd November.
2014  Apart from an adult bird seen amongst 4,100 Gulls on Swinsty Reservoir on 22nd January, the other reports all came from seven sites in the south of the area. The 21 birds included adults and first and second-summer birds at Cullingworth Fields in June, two sightings at Warley Moor Reservoir, one at Ogden Reservoir and a first-summer bird at Leeshaw Reservoir that was there until the middle of October. On 11th September, at Thornton Moor Reservoir, there were two adults and within the following three weeks four first-winter birds were reported. Three first-winter birds found their way to Redcar Tarn during this period.
2015  It was a very similar picture to 2014, with 18 birds seen at seven locations; all except one bird were reported by the same observer. Seven of the gulls appeared at Redcar Tarn between May and November, these all being non-breeding birds in various stages of development - two juveniles, three 1st-winter, a 1st-summer and a 2nd-summer bird.   
At Leeshaw Reservoir, what was thought to be the returning bird of 2014 (now in 2nd-summer plumage) was seen intermittently from spring to early autumn, and briefly also visited nearby Lower Laithe Reservoir. A 1st-winter bird appeared during the last week in August, and a different 2nd-summer was here in early October, also being seen at Thornton Moor Reservoir. The latter site also hosted one of the year’s few adults, in April, and a 3rd-summer bird in late June.  In Bradford, a 1st-winter, was at Girlington for three days in October, and a juvenile at nearby Brown Royd on 11th August. Finally, four different adults were in the flocks at Cullingworth Fields during late August and early September.
A Yellow-legged Gull at Lower Laithe Reservoir, 24th July 2016.  
Photo: Keith Moir
A juvenile Glaucous Gull at Cullingworth, January 2008.                               Photo by Brian Vickers
GLAUCOUS GULL    Larus hyperborcus    Scarce winter visitor
Most recent sightings:
1996  All sightings occurred at Sugden End Tip or in the adjacent fields near Flappit Spring. A first-winter bird was seen there on 4th January, and in February on 11th, 17th and 18th. Also present during this period was a third-winter bird, which seen on 11th and 18th February. A hybrid second-year gull, thought to be Glaucous x Herring was present in the roost at Thornton Moor Reservoir on 7th January.
1997  An adult bird roosted on the ice at Thornton Moor Reservoir on 11th January, a first-winter individual roosted at the same site on 25th January and again the following evening. What was probably the same bird was seen at Manywells Height on 27th January, and again in the roost at Thornton Moor Reservoir the next day. There were no more sightings until 31st December, when a very large first-winter individual was present for just one evening in the Thornton Moor Reservoir roost before moving on.
2000  First-winter birds were seen at either end of the year. The Flappit Spring area of Cullingworth had the first, on 10th, 11th, 14th and 15th January, and on 24th December, one was present in the Swinsty Reservoir roost.
2001  Only one record: a first-winter bird seen at Silsden Reservoir on 9th February.
2008  A juvenile at Cullingworth from 8th to 10th January, was the first since 2000.
ICELAND GULL    Larus glaucoides    Scarce winter visitor
 A species seen most years from 1987 to 2001 on open land fill sites. 
1996  A good year, with all recorded sightings occurring at Sugden End Tip or in the adjacent fields near Flappit Spring. A first-winter bird was present there on 10th, 11th, 14th and 18th February; a third-winter bird was seen on 16th February. In March, another (or possibly the same) first-winter individual was seen on 8th, 9th and 30th.
1997  A first-winter bird was seen at Sugden End Tip on 5th January. A second-winter individual, first seen on the same site on 20th January, was also recorded on several occasions at Thornton Moor Reservoir and Manywells Height on subsequent days. On 31st Jnauary a different second-winter bird was present in the roost at Thornton Moor Reservoir. First-winter individuals were recorded on eight dates between 1st and 15th February at Thornton Moor Reservoir, Manywells Height and Sugden End Tip.
1999  There was one recorded at Otley Gravel Pits on 3rd January.
2000  This was the best year since 1997, with two, and possibly three, birds recorded, the first of which was a first-winter bird seen briefly at Mannywells Tip on 4th March. In the second winter period there was a string of sightings during December, possibly involving the same adult bird, first seen in the Swinsty Reservoir roost on 23rd. This, or another, adult bird was at the Thornton Moor Reservoir roost from 26th to 31st, having been also seen with other gulls on Hewenden Reservoir on 28th. A record of another bird, at Cullingworth, was not accompanied by the necessary description.
2001  Just one record was received: a first-winter bird in fields near Ben Rhydding on 24th March.
2011  A welcome return of a bird not seen since 2001, a juvenile was at Cullingworth on 13th January.
CASPIAN GULL    Larus cachinnans    Scarce migrant/possible winter visitor.
2014  The Group’s first records concerned three, and possibly four, different birds. A juvenile was found at Redcar Tarn on 31st July, and another, a juvenile moulting into 1st-winter plumage, was there on 12th August. The same location had an identifiably different 1st-winter bird on 5th September, and what may have been the same one was observed briefly at nearby Cullingworth Fields the following day.
All the birds were photographed (see below), and the records have been accepted by the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union.
KITTIWAKE    Rissa tridactyla    Uncommon passage/winter visitor
Seen most years from 1987 to 2002. Most recent sightings:
2003  Just two records both of single adults, the first of which was at Elland Gravel Pits on 2nd March (HBC) and the second was flying north at Kex Gill on 22nd March.
2004  One was found at Knotford Nook on 13th March, with another at Elland Gravel Pits on 10th April. In autumn, a bird was seen heading east from Denholme Clough during a visible migration watch on 12th September.
2005  Three records are about the norm. All came from the south of the recording area, and were of a bird at Elland Gravel Pits on 15th April, three birds at Thornton Moor Reservoir on 14th May, and one at Ogden Water on 4th August.
2008  Two records of this distinctly erratic visitor: a bird at Redcar Tarn on 29th March, and another at Warley Moor Reservoir on 3rd May.
2009  Recorded for the second successive year, a bird was seen at Thornton Moor on 11th October.
2010  Recorded for the third year in a row, a juvenile was briefly at Redcar Tarn on 28th August.
2015  Three birds this year, the first records since 2010. On 10th May, the first one was seen in the Riddlesden area and then on the 18th an immature bird bathed in Warley Moor Reservoir before continuing its journey northwards. During a heavy rain shower, the final bird dropped onto Leeshaw Reservoir with several Black-headed Gulls on 20th November. Once the conditions improved it flew away to the west.
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